This week deserves an extra post; its Vacation Bible School! While some pastors and educators dread this crazy week, and I've been known to celebrate it's completion, I really enjoy the kids in this different and personal setting. For the last few years, our congregation has employed centers each with a different focus. My center has been story telling. Thanks to using Group and Cokesbury curriculum in past years, we have created a series of props, wall hangings and costumes to really create the Bible story. Taking off on the creativity of these publishers, this year we have written our own scripts for the Augsburg Rainforest curriculum. Each story has a personal angle and every day we spend hours building a new set. For instance, Monday was the story of Ruth and Boaz, we had a simple field scene and the opportunity for the kids to accompany Ruth while she gleaned from the field. Today Elisha's servant encountered the kids outside Elisha's house at a well. (Real water of course, and real sand to walk thru on the way to the well.) The servant shared Elisha's story and the real fear that the 100 people making noise (sound effects cd helps) in the house, were going to riot when they discovered 20 loaves weren't enough. After checking on the party, I, I mean Elisha's servant, came out and told the kids with great surprise that the bread fed everyone and there was even enough left over for them and gave them a loaf to tear apart. A fun day.
My favorite part is the look on the kids faces when they come into the room. Our backdrops, painted scenes, colored lighting, and key realistic props make each day an adventure. The look of total wonder and surprise when they walk into the story, is worth all the hours of set-up. They remember these stories because they have lived them. They have eaten bread with prophets, caught fish (real fish of course) with disciples, crawled thru the caves outside Rome with persecuted Christians, and been caught praying in Daniel's apartment. They have even crawled into the empty tomb and found the folded linen cloths before meeting Jesus in the garden. How could the effort be any more worthwhile? It is a privilege and a delight to be part of VBS storytelling.
Tomorrow we enter an elaborate garden (real plants lined a path surrounded with soil) and see what grew from the mustard seeds the gardener dropped last year. Then as the kids sit up in the tree house, they'll hear the words of Jesus about mustard seeds. I wish everyone had the opportunity to sit on the floor in sand with children and tell stories or come join us on Thursday and you can stomp grapes with the kids while we tell the story of Jesus, the true vine!